Jun 042009

We visited Louisiana yesterday! No, we didn’t take a quick trip to the land of Cajuns and crawfish, we drove to the picturesque Mississippi River town of Louisiana, Missouri.

We love small towns, and historic Louisiana, settled in 1817, has much to offer any visitor. One claim to fame for Louisiana is that the Delicious apple was developed here, and the Stark nurseries, which brought them to the world, are a major employer and famous around the globe.

Louisiana was an important stop for pioneers headed west, and a major river port in the glory days of riverboat transportation. Many riverboat captains and steamboat owners made their homes in Louisiana.

Louisiana’s prosperous past is reflected in the beautiful old houses lining its residential streets, including the beautiful gingerbread Victorian built in 1891 that was home to Missouri Governor Lloyd C. Stark.

There are also many handsome commercial buildings in the small downtown business district, including this one, home to the popular Eagle’s Nest Restaurant, and the neat stone building housing the Carnegie Library, built in 1905.

Folks in Louisiana are friendly, and justifiably proud of their town. Many said hello as they passed us on the sidewalks, or waved as we drove past. Louisiana is also known for its murals. More than 20 murals decorate buildings in town, depicting community and regional history. 

Many years ago we crossed the Mississippi River at Louisiana on the high, narrow Champ Clark Bridge, a five span truss bridge that carries U.S. Highway 54 across the river to Illinois. The bridge was built in 1928, and one trip across was enough for me! I scraped the exhaust pipe of our first motorhome trying to get over far enough for an oncoming eighteen wheeler to pass, which he did with inches to spare between our mirrors. In subsequent visits to the region, I have made it a point to travel the 30 or so miles north to Hannibal to cross the river on the wider four lane U.S. Highway 36 bridge.

State Route 79 goes from Louisiana to Hannibal, and if you’re in a big rig, it will test your nerves in a few places as it winds its way uphill and downhill as it follows the course of the river. Several pullouts lead to great views of the Mighty Mississippi, but they are not suitable for large RVs. But in our van yesterday it was a piece of cake.

We stopped at Mark Twain Cave and Campground to meet Ed and Marilyn Dray, longtime blog readers who spend their summers at the RV park, where Ed leads tours and Marilyn keeps the local hummingbird population busy at her feeders. It’s always nice to put faces with the names of the people we hear from, and Ed and Marilyn made us feel welcome as we sat under their awning and got acquainted. Be sure to check out their blog, The Happy Wanderers. It was a great day for playing tourist, and we had a wonderful time sightseeing in time in small town America.

Thought For The Day – A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Small Town America”

  1. Two years ago, when we had our fifth wheel, we got up early on a Saturday to limit the possibility of meeting any traffic going over that bridge at Louisiana. Fortunately, there was no traffic and we made it across without any problems — of course, the left side tires of the truck and camper were over the center line!

  2. Nick,

    What? No review of the food at the Eagle’s Nest? C’mon, we need your input here.

  3. Are you crazy, George? Did you not read the comments from yesterday’s blog? I’m not going to write about food any more, because when I do, Gene yells at me.

  4. Nick:

    I vote to ignore Gene. Many more of us like to hear about what you eat and what you think about the quality.

    Good work !!!

  5. I went to college in small town, Louisiana. Beautiful, isn’t it?

    If you ever travel through small town, Missouri, look me up!

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